The land on which Hope Plantation was built was originally granted in the 1720s to members of the Hobson family by the Lords Proprietors. Later, Francis Hobson, who had possession of the property, married Elizabeth Shriver. Following Hobson’s death in 1765, Elizabeth inherited the property. Several years later, Elizabeth married Zedekiah Stone, who had come from New England to settle in Bertie County. This is how the Hope property came into the possession of the Stone family. On February 17, 1770, Zedekiah and Elizabeth Stone had a son, David. As a young man, David Stone completed his education at the College of New Jersey – now Princeton – where in graduated first in his class in 1788. He returned to Bertie County and studied law under William R. Davie of Halifax. At the age of 19, David Stone represented Bertie County in Fayetteville at the Constitutional Convention and supported the ratification of this important document. In 1790, David Stone was licensed to practice law and in that same year represented Bertie County in the North Carolina General Assembly where he served for the next five years.
In February of 1793, David Stone was deeded the Hope Plantation tract by his father, Zedekiah Stone. The property consisted of 1051 acres located five miles west of Windsor. This exchange of property from father to son is believed to have been a wedding gift, because a month later David Stone married Hannah Turner, also of Bertie County.
David Stone continued his involvement in political activities in North Carolina. In addition to his work as an attorney and member of the state legislature, he served as a Superior Court Justice and as a representative and senator in the United States Congress. Stone was also elected by the legislature as governor of North Carolina for two terms (1808-1810). As a trustee of the University of North Carolina, he saw its establishment and was active in its development until his death. David Stone’s interest in education is evidenced by the fact that he owned a library of over 1400 books on a wide variety of topics. His library was one of the largest in the state during the 1800s.
Stone’s growing family and active political life demanded a suitable house with more room for children and entertaining. Documented evidence proves that Hope had reached its final stage of completion by 1803. Stone used a popular 18thcentury architectural manual by Abraham Swann, The British Architect, to plan his house. While Hope is primarily Georgian in design, there are Federal period influences. The two most important rooms in the house, the library and drawing room, and located on the second floor.
Hope Plantation was more than a grand house. It was a self-sufficient community that produced nearly all things necessary for daily life. On the property there were buildings for blacksmithing as well as for spinning and weaving to make clothing. Also on the plantation, David Stone operated a saw mill. Other outbuildings included a kitchen, dairy, grist mill, and meat house. A large kitchen garden provided the food necessary for entertaining and feeding his large family.
David Stone had a second plantation, called Rest-Dale, which no longer exists. It was in Wake County along the Neuse River. His holdings in Bertie and Wake counties made him one of the wealthiest men in North Carolina during the early 1800s. The labor force on both plantations consisted of over 137 slaves.
Although David and Hannah Stone had ten children, only five children lived to be adults. In 1815, Hannah died; and a year later, David Stone married Sarah Dashiell of Washington, DC. On October 7, 1818, David Stone died suddenly at Restdale at the age of 48. Stone was buried at Restdale in the family cemetery. The Stone family sold Hope in 1838, and his descendants left Bertie County.
In his short life, David Stone served Bertie County and North Carolina in many different capacities. His contributions helped to build a stronger state and nation during the years following the American Revolution.
Hope Plantation was purchased in 1966 by the Historic Hope Foundation. The house was restored to its original condition and furnished with an outstanding collection of many regional pieces of the period. It was opened as a historic house museum in October, 1972. Visitors today can learn about David Stone, the man, and the complexities of plantation life in eastern North Carolina in the early 19th century.
About David Stone
A precocious youth, David Stone was graduated, first in his class, from Princeton in 1788. His education and various fields of endeavor proved him, like Thomas Jefferson, to be an heir of the Eighteenth Century Enlightenment. By 1803 David Stone had built an impressive mansion at Hope to accommodate his wife, Hannah Turner, eleven children to be, his many guests and as a fulfillment of his interest in architecture and as a haven to pursue his other many interests.
Stone was a member of the 1789 State convention at Fayetteville, NC, at which he voted to ratify the United States Constitution. By age 33, he had become an attorney, a Superior Court judge, and a member of the North Carolina General Assembly for a number of sessions. He also had been appointed to the Board of Trustees for the University of North Carolina on which he served the rest of his life. In addition to these honors, he had been elected to the United States Congress, in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Later, he served, again, as a Superior Court judge. In 1808 he was elected governor of North Carolina for two terms after which he returned to the United States Senate. Always interested in education, in his last years he established an academy in Wake County. David Stone’s life was that of a planter, statesman, and scholar.